Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

Welcome to the Galapagos Islands Travel Blog. We provide unbiased opinions on the best travel ideas, sales, specials across all islands. If you want to arrange a private tour contact 201-688-7170

Saturday, December 3, 2011

San Cristobal Galapagos

The easternmost (and fifth largest) of all the islands is San Cristobal. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the main entry point and is the provincial capital of the Galapagos. Some flights actually arrive on San Cristobal and some tours begin here, although most begin in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The town is quite pleasant, with laid back atmosphere and unique Afro-Ecuadorian culture.

Galapagos Travel- San Cristobal

A short ride or walk from town provides the opportunity to see the islands’ best and newest visitor center. Very modern and illustrative, it is well worth a visit to learn about the human and natural history of the island. Everything is written in both English and Spanish, and the interactive approach to the displays makes it quite enjoyable.

Another short trail out of town leads to Frigate Bird Hill, where both the greater and the magnificent frigate birds are known to nest. The hill also provides good views of the bay. Northeast of town, past the village of El Progresso, is the highest point on the island, Cerro San Joaquin (2,930 feet); and several miles farther, El Junco, a freshwater lagoon. Not many tours head out this direction, but the trail offers a good opportunity to view the inter island life zones without the heavy traffic of Santa Cruz Island.
The tiny Isla Lobos is about an hour of travel northeast of Puerto Moreno by boat. Although not as spectacular as some of the other stops, it is the site of the main sea lion colonies of San Cristobal. Swimming with sea lion pups in the shallows is a tour highlight for many people.
Farther down the coast another hour or so is the sheer rock outcrop of Leon Dormido, or “Sleeping Lion”. This tiny island has been eroded in half, and boats can pass right through the center if the ocean is calm enough. Just circling around its massive vertical walls is exciting. There is no landing here, but boats will drift around while you snorkel between the rocks.
The marine display is usually fascinating, there’s a good chance of witnessing sharks or even a massive, spotted eagle ray. Punta Pitt and Turtle Bay lie at the north end of San Cristobal. Punta Pitt offers the chance to see all three species of boobies nesting in the same area, and the only place to see the nesting red footed booby. Sea turtles are often found at Turtle Bay. Inland and a good hike away is Los Galapagos, one of the best places to witnesss the giant Galapagos tortoise in its natural environment. Many tours do not have time for the four hour round trip hike into this area, so be sure to inquire if you are interested.

- Article written for the Galapagos Travel blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Galapagos Islands Birds Trivia- Answer Correctly and WIN

Which of these five birds are found on the Galapagos Islands?

Readers with the correct answer will be entered into a drawing for a free Galapagos Islands tee shirt and cap.

* Enter your answer below to participate :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baltra Island - Travel Begins

Beautiful shot of a pelican feeding !!! Most travelers enter the Galapagos Islands via the small airport at Isla Baltra, which was developed as a US airbase in the early 1940s to protect US interests from a perceived trheat from Germany at the Panama Canal, as well as to prepare US forces en route to battle against Japan in the South Seas. In fact, Baltra was the largest military base in all of South America at the time, and created the first large scale wave of immigrants from mainland Ecuador and surrounding countries. They built the infrastructure in record time. Now it is an Ecuadorian air base with only remnants of a bygone era. Travel essentially begins here.

Just north of Santa Cruz Island, Baltra is a tiny island (10 square miles) that is primarily used as a point of arrival and departure for island tours. If you are on a prearranged tour, your host will probably meet you at the airport. Or follow the crowd from here to the shuttle bus, which takes you to the ferry that crosses over the Santa Cruz Island. Wait along the shoreline and watch as pelicans dive for fish nearby. Your wildlife viewing has already begun! Once on Santa Cruz, another bus or private transport will cross the island to Puerto Ayora, where most travel tours begin.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Santa Cruz Island Galapagos

Chances are that your tour will begin here. A ferry from Isla Baltra provides transportation to the north side of Santa Cruz, land land transportation will continue to Puerto Ayora, where cruise vessels are docked.

Unfortunately, Santa Cruz Island is in grave danger as a result of continued development. In fact, it has the largest population of all the Galapagos Islands, with over half of the archipelago’s 20,000+ inhabitants. Its future will depend on a recent moratorium on immigration to the islands and effective regulation of agricultural expansion as well as other indirect impacts of tourism.

Puerto Ayora, the main town and focal point for tourism, lies on the south side of the island. Within walking distance is the Charles Darwin Research Station. Most tours stop by the station at some point during their visit. The walk from town to the research station passes through a unique “forest” of manzanilla, saltbush, and various cacti. Insect, which are relatively under represented on the islands compared to the mainland, abound in various shapes and sizes. Birders will enjoy Darwin’s finches, fly catchers, and Galapagos mockingbirds.

Santa Cruz Island Galapagos Turtles

The research station is important for understanding the magic of the Galapagos Islands and its struggle to survive. At the main visitor’s center are numerous exhibits that describe the archipelago’s natural history, geology, historical issues, and conservation efforts. Slide shows are also presented here in serval different languages. Farther along the main walkway is the tortoise conservation and rearing center. Learn about the natural history of the remaining endemic subspecies, as well as other ongoing projects. In addition, you can visit the center’s tortoise incubation and repartriation facilities, where repopulating efforts continue at full speed. There are several small beaches nearby that are great for relaxing.

Back in town, the ocean front street is a good place to pick up a souvenir or relax with a drink and a sunset view of the Academy Bay. Prices here are a bit higher than on the mainland. Don’t expect at the last minute to find an inexpensive, disposable underwater camera. They cost up to $25 here, compared to $15 in Quito. While you are lounging about near the shoreline, the wildlife – including marine iguanas, pelicans, and other shorebirds – may join you. Pangas, the little rubber motorboats, wait as water taxis at the pier to transport passengers between the island and their boats. Arrange to have a crew member pick you up, or take a water taxi for just over $1.

Just southwest of town lies another interesting sight – Turtle Bay, with one of the nicer beaches in the islands. Take the self guided trail near the Pacifictel  telephone office and walk for about 45 minutes to the white sand beach. There you may find various seabirds, marine iguanas, and perhaps a shark or two.

In the interior of Santa Cruz, you can also explore the highland ecosystem. There are a few trailed areas worth inquiring about if you have an extra day or two on the island before or after a tour, including lava tubes, sinkholes, and a tortoise reserve. There are tours of eight days or longer that explores the highlands, so be sure to inquire if you are interested.

Puerto Ayora is the hub of tourist activity on the islands and has the best modern facilities. Plenty of shops, restaurants, and Post and communications are also available here.

On the north side of the island are a couple of visitor sites for boat tours that generally begin or end at the nearby Baltra Island, a snorkeling destination. Las Bachas offers a beach landing just west of the channel to Baltra Island. There is a good swimming here, as well as a variety of wildlife that includes marine iguanas, crabs and great blue herons. Pink flamingos are sometimes found in the lagoon. Farther west is Caleta Tortuga Negra, a small cove that provides a breeding ground for green sea turtles and is a habitat for reef sharks, rays and blue herons.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Galapagos Snorkeling and Swimming

Snorkeling is readily available on tours and is a highlight for many visitors. The water remains a pleasant 72F from January to April, but can drop to a chilly 64F throughout the rest of the year. Although the snorkeling doesn’t offer the sheer concentration of tropical reef fish as found at the Great Barrier Reef, for example, the variety of marine life is astounding.

Nowhere else on earth can you witness a rainbow of tropical fish, awesome hammerhead sharks, giant sea rays, causal sea turtles, and lightning fast penguins all in the same place. For a real treat, snorkel the shallows near a family of sea lions. They will swirl and twist in a dizzying display of underwater antics, especially the young pups and will expect you to swim where your guide recommends.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tower (Genovesa) Island

An outlying island, it is well worth making a trip out here, as you can see not only large colonies of red-footed boobies, but nests of frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, storm petrels and masked boobies as well. Some other birds that have been spotted here as well include the endemic Galapagos Dove and short-eared owls.

Tower is a small island at the upper right hand corner of the Galapagos Islands. It is not visited as often as the more central islands because of the length of the voyage and the possiblity of rough seas. There are two tourist points on the island: the beach and tidepool area around Darwin Bay and the inland area reached from the bay by what are known as Prince Philip's Steps. Both sites are very good for seeing marvalous birdlife like the redfooted booby.